I am a Digital Vision Fellow at Stanford and the focus of my work is to
develop a rural messaging service that will give villagers a voice to
the world.

What I am proposing is a youth-led process to help villagers that don't
use computers or the Internet, but want to "communicate" with their
loved ones outside the village (in other towns or even in the Diaspora).
The process will begin at the Owerri Digital Village, a community
technology and learning center in eastern Nigeria. For an easier read,
the steps in the process are summarized in numerical form below:

1) Villages and families will be identified. Each family will have
their own email account at the center.

2) Youth agents will be trained to go out into these communities on a
given schedule to take communication from these families for their
relatives living outside the village.

3) The youth agents will have a customized form they will use to
document the message(s).

4) In some instances if the locals speak and write only the local
language and have chosen to write their own letter, the youth agent will
take the handwritten letter.

5) On returning to the Owerri Digital Village, the youth agent will
type up the letter or scan the letter (depending on which option was
performed - 3 or 4).

6) The letter will be sent via email to the recipient and an e-post log
will be completed by the youth agent.

7) When and if a response is received, the youth agent will then return
to the family with the message...

The cycle continues.....

What the program hopes to achieve is the promotion and empowerment of
marginalized youth through ICT skills training for creation of "socially
responsible citizens", access to computers and most of all the
satisfaction of doing something that the community places a significant
value on.

There are several other process related issues that are involved with
this project including how we deal with confidentiality, what nominal
price to charge and who (the local villager, their family member in the
Diaspora or both), how to minimize the length of communication (with
attachments, especially if we are using a BGAN where the cost is
dependent on amount of data transmitted)... etc, etc.

I'd be excited if there are others on this list who may be interested in
working with me on the project team, or if there are any other global
examples to share as we move forward with this project. Please let me

Njideka Ugwuegbu
Reuters Digital Vision Fellow
Stanford University

Founder, Youth for Technology Foundation
(425) 681-3920

Herman Wasserman <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:

> Cliff, this is a very interesting line of argument -- if this way of
> using the internet through an intermediary is a general practice in
> Africa because of the lack of connectivity, it might mean amending some
> of the theories of Internet communication from the idea of the Internet
> as a many-to-one or individualised, customised form of communication to
> one that is similar to the two-step flow of communication, where
> information is mediated by leaders or representatives in society.
> Can you perhaps point me to some case studies of this type of mediation,
> or to specific examples? Thanks
> Cliff Missen wrote:
>> Today, villager's messages are being delivered on paper to a Internet
>> Cafe and then transcribed into email for delivery worldwide by someone
>> who holds an email account. There may someday be a SERVICE that enhances
>> this informal relationship to the point where a single "griot" can
>> manage email accounts for hundreds of clients through a simple handheld
>> device. It'll take a little tweaking of the current email and client
>> software, but it's very possible.

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